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Law enforcement officer deaths: Preliminary 2010

Research Bulletin

Law Enforcement Fatalities Spike Dangerously in 2010 Following a two year decline, law enforcement fatalities in 2010 spiked to 162. This was an increase of nearly 40 percent compared to last year, when 117 officers were killed in the line of duty. Preliminary data from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund show that for the 13th year in a row, traffic fatalities were the leading cause of officer fatalities, with 73 officers killed in the line of duty—an increase of 43 percent from 2009. Of the 73 traffic-related fatalities in 2010, 50 officers died in automobile crashes, 16 were struck and killed by automobiles while outside of their vehicles, 1 died in a bicycle accident, and 6 died in motorcycle crashes. Firearm fatalities increased 24 percent, from 49 deaths in 2009 to 61 in 2010. Even more alarming, multiple fatality shootings accounted for nearly 20 percent of all fatal shootings. Five incidents occurred in: Fresno, CA, San Juan, PR, West Memphis, AR, Tampa, FL, and Hoonah, AK, accounting for 10 officer deaths. Thirty nine states, along with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico experienced officer fatalities during 2010. For the third year in a row, Texas (19), Florida (9) and California (11) were in the top five states with the most fatalities—a combined total of 39, or 24 percent of the national total for 2010. Eleven federal law enforcement officers died in the line of duty in 2010, including three U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers and two agents from the U.S. Border Patrol. The average age of the officers killed in 2010 was 41; the average length of their law enforcement service was nearly 12 years and on average each officer left behind 2 children. The statistics released by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund are preliminary data and do not represent a final or complete list of individual officers who will be added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial for 2010.

A Closer Look: Chicago Police Department Officer Michael Bailey, Sr. EOW: 7/18/2010 Officer Bailey was shot and killed during an attempted armed robbery at his home. After returning from a mayoral protection detail in uniform, three suspects approached him and tried to carjack him. He identified himself as an officer and a gunbattle ensued. Officer Bailey was fatally shot and died at the scene.

Officer Thomas Wortham IV EOW: 5/20/2010 Officer Wortham was shot and killed when four armed men attempted to steal his motorcycle. Upon hearing the altercation, his father, a retired Chicago police sergeant, exited the house and opened fire on the suspects, killing one and wounding another. Two other suspects fled, but were taken into custody the next day.

Officer Thor O. Soderberg EOW 7/7/2010 Police Officer Soderberg was shot and killed by an assailant during an attempted robbery. Officer Soderberg was outside the department’s police training center when he was assaulted by an unknown suspect.

Officer Michael R. Flisk EOW: 11/26/2010 Officer Flisk was shot and killed while processing the scene of a vehicle burglary. The burglary victim, a retired police officer, was also shot and killed. A 19-year-old parolee was charged with two counts of murder. The Chicago Police Department has 480 officers on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.

Law Enforcement Officer Deaths: Preliminary 2010 Report

Traffic-related fatalities: End of Year 2010 After a 28 percent decrease in 2009, traffic-related fatalities soared to 73 in 2010—a 43 percent increase from 2009. The 2010 total was close to approaching the record high in 2007 when 84 officers died in traffic-related incidents. Traffic-related fatalities have been the leading cause of line of duty deaths for 13 straight years. Even more troubling, 2010 saw a rise in fatalities resulting from officers being struck while outside their vehicles. Ten officers were struck and killed last year, but 16 officers were killed in 2010. Three of the officers were from the California Highway Patrol, which lost five officers in 2010.

Tragically, in 2010, other types of traffic fatalities increased: automobile accidents (50), motorcycle accidents (6), and bicycle accidents (1). Overall, officer fatalities have steadily declined over the decades. But since the 1960s traffic fatalities have steadily increased almost every decade. The 1960s averaged 59 deaths, but fatalities have increased 22 percent, averaging 72 from 2000-2009.

Firearms-related fatalities: End of Year 2010 In 2010, firearm-related fatalities climbed to 61 line of duty deaths, 24 percent higher than in 2009 when 49 officers were killed. While the 2010 total was high compared to the rest of the decade, fatal shootings have decreased more than 45 percent since the 1970s. For the second year in a row, officers continue to be shot in ambush style attacks. In 2010, twelve officers were killed in these vicious attacks accounting for 20 percent of all fatal shootings. Eight officers were killed responding to domestic violence calls, a drop from 12 in 2009. The dangers of arresting suspects greatly increased in 2010, with 7 officers shot and killed while attempting to make an arrest. Four of those officers were members of the Chicago Police Department, which has lost five officers this year. (See page 1 for more information on the four Chicago officers.)


Law Enforcement Officer Deaths: Preliminary 2010 Report

Geographic distribution of officer fatalities: 2010

States with six or more fatalities States with at least one fatality Thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia, lost an officer in the line of duty this year, along with 11 Federal officers, and five territorial fatalities. Texas tops the list with 19 fatalities, accounting for over 10 percent of all fatalities in 2010. For the past four years, Texas has lost an average of 16 officers each year. California (11) and Florida (9) join Texas on the list of the states with the most fatalities for the third year in a row. Of the 11 Federal agents killed in the line of duty, two were from the U.S. Border Patrol and three were from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency. (See page 4 for more information.) Eleven states (ID, WY, NE, ND, IA, WV, VT, NH, RI, HI, and DE) did not lose an officer in 2010.

Fatalities by State TX CA IL FL GA LA AZ MD MO MS MI NJ OH VA

19 11 10 9 8 6 5 5 5 5 4 4 4 4


3 3 3 3 3 3 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2

WA AL CO DC KY ME NM NV OK OR SD WI Federal Territorial

2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 11 5


Law Enforcement Officer Deaths: Preliminary 2010 Report

Causes of officer deaths: End of Year 2010

A Closer Look: Protecting our Borders: Border Patrol Agent Mark Van Doren EOW: 5/24/2010 Border Patrol Agent Van Doren was killed while on patrol when his vehicle struck a bull and a tree in a single-vehicle accident. He was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. Officer Charles Collins EOW: 7/11/2010 Officer Collins was killed in an automobile accident in Alaska when his vehicle left the roadway. The vehicle descended a 200-foot embankment and landed in a rain-swollen creek. Law enforcement agencies conducted a massive search, and his body was recovered on August 15th.

Other Causes: Traffic and firearm fatalities accounted for 134 deaths, 83 percent of all fatalities this year. Nineteen officers died of job-related illnesses. Nine officers died of other causes–beating, drowning, aircraft accidents, falls, and boating accidents.

Beating Drowned Aircraft Accident Officer Fell to His/Her Death Boating Accident

Demographic Profile: Race/Ethnicity Caucasian African American Hispanic Native American Asian American Other Unknown

Gender 107 Female 19 Male 14 2 Average Age 2 2 Average Years of Service 16

7 155 41 12

2 2 2 2 1

Border Patrol Agent Michael Gallagher EOW: 9/2/2010 Border Patrol Agent Gallagher was killed when his patrol truck collided with an oncoming vehicle, causing his truck to overturn. The driver of the vehicle was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident. Officer John Zykas EOW: 9/8/2010 Officer Zykas suffered a fatal heart attack while participating in a departmental training exercise at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry. He was transported to a local hospital where he underwent major surgery, remaining hospitalized for six days, when he succumbed to his injuries. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry EOW: 12/15/2010 Border Patrol Agent Terry was shot and killed while attempting to apprehend a group of armed subjects. He was transported to a hospital where he succumbed to his wounds early the following morning.

This Research Bulletin was produced by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, in conjunction with Concerns of Police Survivors.


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Police Deaths 2010  

Increase in Police deaths on Duty